Jefferson County Bell Hill Road Project Meeting
Jefferson County Roads and Transportation held a public meeting on April 19, 2021 to answer questions from the public on the proposed Bell Hill Road project. Approximately 100 people attended the three hour meeting. The following is a link to the maps that were shown at the meeting as well as some of the questions that were asked. If you have additional questions on this project please contact Roads and Transportation at 205-325-5141. Thank you to all who came out and shared insight.
Why is the project being done?
There has been a significant amount of development that has occurred and is ongoing down Pocahontas Rd that had created poor levels of service at the intersection of Bell Hill Rd and Pocahontas Rd and intersection improvements at this location had been included in the County’s planned projects before the site was selected for the hospital development. The opening of the new school and several new planned subdivisions in the area will further impact the poor operation of the intersection necessitating the planned improvements.
How much will it cost?
While the project has not been bid yet, estimated cost is around $6 to $8-million and will be funded by Jefferson County.
How long will it take?
The project is scheduled to bid in the fall of 2022 with construction starting in the first quarter of 2023. The project is anticipated to take approximately 2 years to complete.
Is Jefferson County acquiring property by eminent domain?
Jefferson County is required by law to follow a specific process in acquiring property for public projects. The first step is evaluating the right of way needs for the project and communicating with residents regarding those impacts. A federally established valuation process is followed, to determine the level of impact to each property owner as a result of the project. Additional design modifications may also result, as all efforts are made to reduce or eliminate impacts where possible while still supporting the roadway operation needs. While taking property by eminent domain is possible, it is the last step after all other efforts have been made.
Why a roundabout?
Roundabouts provide a number of benefits over traditional signalized intersections including:
- Fewer and less severe crashes
- Lower vehicle speeds
- Less vehicle pollution because care are not stopped at a traffic light
- Pedestrian safety because you cross one direction of traffic at a time
- Increased intersection operational efficiency
Will there be a traffic signal at Letson Farms and the new widened Bell Hill Road?
A traffic signal at this location is not a part of the current project. A traffic study will be conducted following completion of the project and hospital to see if traffic counts warrant a signal.
What is being done about drainage in the area?
An in-depth hydraulic study has been performed to evaluate the condition and functionality of existing and proposed drainage structures within the project limits and surrounding areas. The project will include the addition of curb and gutter along the roadways with piped drainage networks to handle storm water on the roadway and the replacement/remediation of existing drainage facilities found to be deficient or damaged. A series of permanent detention basins will be constructed along the project to control storm water discharges and improve water quality.
Why isn’t a new interchange off I-459 happening?
The Federal Highway Administration has established design criteria for new on/off ramps, those criteria include spacing restrictions from other existing on/off ramps. In this particular case, additional on/off ramps at Pocahontas are considered to be too close to the ones located at Eastern Valley and would have a potential adverse effect on the interstate operation. As a result, ALDOT will not approve a new interchange off I-459 at this time. However, there are plans to improve the existing interchange at Eastern Valley Road to improve traffic flow.
Will there be sidewalks?
Yes, sidewalks will be included along Bell Hill Road from Eastern Valley Road to Pocahontas. This is to improve citizen accessibility and increase recreational opportunities for the community.
Who came up with this plan?
The County evaluated the site and developed a preliminary alternative for the Bell Hill Rd/Pocahontas corridor. Jefferson County then retained engineering design consultants, AECOM, to evaluate the proposed alternative and complete the design.